Author: Jordanna Morgan
Archive Rights: Please request the author's consent.
Rating/Warnings: G. So sweet you'll need to brush your teeth after reading.
Characters: Rogue, Jubilee, Kitty, and Logan.
Setting: General. Relative to most of my stories, this one is a bit farther in the future.
Summary: The girls have an unlikely coach when they practice for the school spelling bee.
Disclaimer: Marvel and Fox create the characters that sell. I'm simply playing with them.
Notes: This is what happens when a friend wants a Wolverine ficlet and you've just watched the National Spelling Bee. I'm not sure Totally Adorable Warm Fuzzy Fluff is quite what Skybright Daye had in mind, but I expect it will do in a pinch. *g*
"Okay, try this one... orchidaceous."
It was a warm, bright May day in Westchester. It also happened to be the weekend before the Xavier School's annual spelling bee; for which reason three teenaged girls were sprawled on a blanket under the shade of a spreading oak, with bags of junk food, bottles of soda, and a dozen hefty dictionaries scattered around them.
For nearly two hours now, the girls had been firing words back and forth for spelling practice. They may have been competitors, but they were also best friends who shared the unique challenges of mutation, and they had learned through many hard lessons that standing by each other was the key to their survival. This may have been simply a school competition instead of a life-and-death crisis, but what still mattered the most to them was helping one another--and incidentally having as much fun as possible doing it.
Hence the sugar-coated picnic.
Of course, considering the unseasonable heat that had settled in that morning, it probably would have been more comfortable to practice in the air-conditioned confines of the mansion. The reason the girls had escaped to the great outdoors was that... well, Doctor Grey-Summers was just a little bit pregnant. And as it turned out, the vicinity of a hormonally-wired telekinetic with morning sickness was not the most ideal place in the world to be.
Kitty Pryde leaned over to smack Jubilee playfully on the elbow. "Orchidaceous. It means showy. You know, like a fancy flower--or that new top you bought last week, with the big rhinestones shaped like hard candies. Now spell it, homegirl!"
Jubilee gave vent to a long-suffering sigh. "Okay, I'll try it. O-R-C-H-I-D-A-T-I... Hey! Would you cut that out already?"
Promptly upon the erroneous letter T, a small cascade of wood shavings sprinkled down from the overhanging tree canopy, raining directly on Jubilee. As she dusted them out of her hair and the ruffles of her hot-pink peasant blouse, she shot a glare into the branches above.
With a smile and a fond roll of her eyes, Rogue also turned her gaze upward, and regarded the Wolverine in the tree.
Logan was settled comfortably in a sturdy crook of the tree trunk, a dozen feet above them. He had been there long before they came outside, but uncharacteristically, their intrusion upon his solitude had not prompted him to stalk off in search of someplace more isolated. He just stayed there in the branches, intently whittling away at a fresh piece of wood with the extended tip of one claw, and seemingly ignoring their chatter... except for the tacit and uncannily timed commentary of the shavings.
"I know you're not that good a speller, Logan," Rogue chided him with a grin. "I know how you're doin' it. Your eyesight's good enough to see our books from up there."
She laughed as she was rewarded with her own dusting of wood particles.
Ignoring the subtle horseplay, Kitty pragmatically returned to the subject at hand with Jubilee. "The end of the word isn't T-I-O-U-S. It's C-E-O-U-S. Now throw me one."
"Hey," Logan's voice interrupted from above. "Speaking of throwing people one..." He pointed down at the girls' cooler of soda bottles, and made a beckoning gesture with the exposed two inches of claw he had been whittling with.
Rogue leaned forward to pick a bottle out of the cooler, and then glanced up deviously at Logan. "Trade you for a word."
With an interested expression, Logan retracted the claw and shifted a bit more to one side, the better to look down at the feminine trio. He thought for a moment, and then offered, "Litchi."
Jubilee blanched. "Did you just say leeches?"
"No. Litchi. It's a Chinese fruit." Logan gave Rogue a nod of thanks as she smiled approvingly and tossed the drink up to him.
Kitty smirked. "Jubes has never eaten a pear, much less a litchi."
"Well, I don't have to eat it to spell it! L-E-E-T... knock it off!" Jubilee recoiled as another shower of wood chips drifted down.
His lips twitching faintly, Logan moved to resettle himself. He wedged the soda bottle into a fork of the tree trunk, and reached for the object he had been carving... only to have it slip through his fingers and tumble to earth. It hit the picnic blanket and bounced once, disappearing into the tall grass.
With a slightly alarmed look, Logan swung down off the branch and dropped to the ground, making a dive for his handiwork--but Jubilee was closer, and reached it first. She held up the object between finger and thumb for Kitty and Rogue to see, staring at it in puzzlement.
Although still rough and unfinished, it took the shape of a seamless wooden sphere, painstakingly hollowed out through the evenly spaced, almost decorative slots in its surface. It vaguely resembled a whiffle ball, but it was only half the size. Three delicately carved beads of wood were trapped within the sphere, rolling around loose inside it, and a handle designed for small fingers stemmed from its base.
Jubilee quizzically shook the object, and it rattled.
And then it made perfect sense.
"Aww, Logan!" Rogue squealed in delighted amusement, clapping her gloved hands together.
Logan winced and snatched the rattle out of Jubilee's hand. "It's for Jean's kid, okay?" he growled. He turned away from the girls, folding his powerful arms over his chest, and there was a moment of mildly consternated silence.
Then Kitty grinned at Logan's back, wrapping her arms around her knees. "That's just... wow. That's pretty much the sweetest thing ever."
"Actually, yeah," Jubilee agreed cautiously--as if worried that Logan might have a violent reaction to accusations of sweetness.
Rogue merely smiled at Logan. So many times in the past, even recently, she had wondered if she would wake up one morning to find her friend and fondest protector gone; running again, afraid to belong, afraid to be loved. That doubt was gone now. The carefully crafted toy in his hand was proof that he intended to be there for a generation yet to come.
"Don't be embarrassed, Logan," she said softly. "You just made me happy."
The Wolverine slowly glanced back over his shoulder. His agitated expression softened a little; then he turned without a word, and climbed up once more to reclaim his perch in the tree.
Feeling a glow in her heart, Rogue glanced back at Kitty and Jubilee.
"Here's another word, guys," she said with a smile. "It's domiciliation."
The answer from the tree was a torrent of sawdust.
2009 Jordanna Morgan - please send feedback